Without a doubt, both Calgary and Vancouver are breathtaking natural playgrounds. But take a look closer, and you’ll find that these two cities are quite different.
In Calgary, you’ll have the Rocky Mountains, Banff, and Lake Louise at your doorstep. But in Vancouver, you’ll get the majestic Pacific Range and countless glistening waterfronts.
Considering their natural wonders are part of your decision-making process. Would you rather see the Canadian Rockies or have both the mountains and beaches on your trip?
But choosing between Calgary and Vancouver isn’t simple as this, they’re only one aspect of your trip. If you want a better view of what makes each city such a tourist magnet, keep on reading. Below, you’ll get to know the two cities more and figure out why tourists from all around the world love visiting Calgary and Vancouver.
Between the breathtaking Canadian Rockies and the prairies lies the charming city of Calgary. This vibrant urban city is scenic at every turn, always framed by mountain peaks. Its natural beauty is a scenic inspiration, but there’s plenty more that you can do in this sun-soaked wonderland.
What Makes Calgary Unique?
A Nature Lover’s Scenic Paradise
Whether you’re looking for urban zen or a thrilling adventure, you’ll have no problem finding either in Calgary. The city has beautiful green spaces in and around the city. And with this, retreating to a lush wonderland is always easy to do here.
When it comes to providing easy access to green spaces, Calgary takes its job seriously. The city has over 5000 parks at your disposal. These green oases take up close to 250000 acres (101171 ha) of Calgary’s land, so there’s a tranquil paradise for everyone in the city.
With so many parks dotted around the city though, there are a few standouts. This includes Nose Hill Park, Prairie Winds Park, and Sue Higgins Park. But Prince Island Park is the downtown oasis of choice for many.
Prince Island’s Park is arguably the best one in Calgary and is often compared to New York’s Central Park. It features wooded pathways, boardwalks over wetlands, a fishing spot, and more. The park also hosts seasonal activities, such as alfresco movies in the summer and a skating rink in the winter!
In surrounding you with nature, Calgary encourages its locals and visitors alike to explore the great outdoors. And this allure doesn’t stop in the city too.
Set at the foot of the majestic Canadian Rockies, true wilderness is only a short drive away from Calgary! You don’t have to travel far to go on a thrilling outdoor adventure. The best part is that the surrounding area of Calgary is a perfect host for outdoor fun, no matter what time of the year.
In the summer, you can hike, camp, and swim all you want. Calgary may be even better during the winter for some. There are tons of spots around the city for mountainboarding, snowboarding, skiing, and more!
Only about an hour away from Calgary is Canada’s first national park, Banff National Park. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is the gateway to the Canadian Rockies. Thus, it’s a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts!
Immerse Yourself in Its Fascinating History
There are tons of ways to get to know a city. But to understand how Calgary became the city it is today, you’d have to uncover its interesting history. And in a city that’s filled with historical sites, Calgary indulges the history buff in you.
For over 10,000 years, indigenous people have lived in Calgary. Even today, the city continues to ensure that its indigenous culture isn’t forgotten.
You can dive deep into the history of the First Nations at Glenbow Museum. Here, you can marvel at plains quillwork, Blackfoot artifacts, and Inuit carvings.
Or you can visit the Calgary Heritage Park, which is a First Nations encampment. Interpreters here will tell you the tale of the native people. They’ll even show you some traditional activities to further aid your learning.
If you truly want to immerse yourself in Calgary’s indigenous culture, head to the Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site. More than the authentic camping experience it offers, there are tons of activities to try here. You can make a dream catcher, eat traditional food, listen to the sound of an indigenous drummer, and more!
A world-famous archeological site in Calgary is the Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump. This UNESCO World Heritage Site preserves the culture of the Plains People, the first inhabitants of the city. This was their hunting site, where they chased giant animals and set up butchering stations.
Loads of Fun for the Animal Lovers
Calgary shares its beautiful natural wonders with animals of all kinds. See them in action, learn more about them, or even explore the great outdoors with them! There are tons of ways to keep the animal lover in you busy here.
One of the top tourist attractions in the city is the Calgary Zoo, a staple in any itinerary to the city. It’s one of the most visited and highly respected zoos in the country. But more than that, it has worldwide recognition for its conservation efforts!
Here at Calgary Zoo, you can get a feel of Canada’s wilderness. Watch grizzly bears play, marvel at mountain goats, and more!
What’s more exciting here is that you’ll feel like you’re touring the world in one area. Calgary Zoo has close to a thousand animals from various continents like Africa and Asia. Penguins, flamingos, and giraffes are only some of its charming residents.
Calgary is also home to a haven for wolfdogs, one that rescues these neglected or abandoned animals. This is the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary, a tranquil wonderland filled with aspen trees. With an interactive tour, you can get up close and personal with these furry friends!
If you love horses, Calgary offers a more immersive experience than petting zoos. Tons of companies around the city offer a tour of the natural wonders in Calgary on a horseback ride! With rolling hills around you and the Rocky Mountains in the distance, this is an experience like no other.
A Thriving and Eclectic Art Scene
Calgary is best known as the Stampede City or Cowtown, nicknames that represent its Wild West heritage. Tourists come here for the city’s natural beauty, history, and many other things. But Calgary is also a strong art hub, one that celebrates art in all its forms.
You can get a taste of Calgary’s visual art scene everywhere in the city. Be it public galleries, working studios, artisan shops, and more.
Glenbow Museum is famous for its impressive collection of indigenous art. If you’re a lover of contemporary art, the Contemporary Gallery is the best place to be. While the Stephen Lowe Art Gallery celebrates masterpieces by tons of Canadian artists.
You don’t have to go indoors to experience Calgary’s exciting art scene though. The city feels like a sprawling outdoor museum as it’s so full of public art! Even a stroll around Calgary is enough to inspire any art lover.
The concrete walls of East Village and 17th Avenue are full of life, thanks to the vibrant and colorful street art it features. The Wonderland, a giant wire head sculpture at Bow Building, has become a famous landmark in itself. And right at Stephen Avenue, you can marvel at ten gorgeous metal tree structures.
Calgary even has a strong performing-arts scene to indulge the music or theater lover in you.
Go around the city and you’ll discover plenty of music venues, some world-class, while others are smaller and more intimate. Catch live music at King Eddy in Inglewood, National Music Center in Studio Bell, and more. Prince’s Island Park even hosts music festivals like the Calgary Folk Music Festival.
Calgary fosters the creativity and craft of theater groups too. You’re spoiled for choices in theater venues around the city. Some of the renowned ones are Pumphouse Theatre, One Yellow Rabbit, and Loose Moose Theatre.
The Exuberant and Electrifying Nightlife
When the sun sets, Calgary comes alive with crowds of merrymakers filling the streets. Hang out at a quiet nook with a cocktail, dance the night away, or have fun at a casino! There are loads to do in Calgary after dark, and you can easily find a spot that fits your likes.
For plenty of night owls, heading to a nightclub is the top thing to do. You’ll find no shortage of these in the city, and each nightclub here has its own charm and music style. With this, picking the right spot for your music taste, among others, is easy to do in Calgary!
Calgary has a strong Wild West heritage that lives on today, and it’s still evident in its night scene. If you’re up for something different, one of the most popular nightclubs in Calgary is the Cowboys Dance Hall!
If this isn’t for you, make your way to Downtown Calgary. This neighborhood is home to the most visited nightclubs in the city.
For a more chill night out, you can always help yourself to some drinks in a bar.
Dress up and head to 17th Avenue, as this has the highest concentration of pubs and lounges in the city. For a dive-bar karaoke experience, a local sports pub, or an Irish pub, make your way to Mission Instead. If you’d rather drink in a fancier lounge, Kensington or Sunnyside is the best neighborhood for you.
If you want to try a local drink, order a glass of Caesar cocktail. This drink is a Calgary special and is much like a spicy and zesty Bloody Mary. It contains vodka, clam broth, tomato juice, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and ice.
Maybe trying your luck at gambling is something you want to do in the city. Play blackjack, roulette, poker, or try your luck at a slot machine, and more!
Calgary has tons of casinos around the city for you to choose from. And depending on which one you pick, you also get access to a bar or a top-notch restaurant! A highlight in this scene is the Cowboys Casino, home of the famous Cowboy Dance Hall.
With the North Shore Mountains and the Pacific waters within your reach, Vancouver is your gateway to Canada’s scenic outdoors. Go snowboarding during winter or sunbathe at the beach during summer, Vancouver is a year-round destination! While this city is an outdoor lover’s paradise, it offers more than its natural beauty.
What Makes Vancouver Unique?
A Breathtaking Natural Playground
Being so close to both the ocean and the mountains, Vancouver’s unique location, in itself, is one of the city’s greatest allures. You don’t even have too far to find a lush oasis to retreat to. With the convenience of a big city and the great outdoors at your fingertips, Vancouver offers you the best of both worlds.
From the heart of the city, it’s easy to see and visit three of the main mountains in the northern part of Vancouver. And if you want an action-packed adventure, these mountains are just a short drive away:
- Cypress Mountain: The locals’ favorite and Vancouver’s biggest ski resort. Come during the winter as the resort has the best facilities to go skiing, snowboarding, and the like. And visit during the summer for its scenic hiking and exciting biking trails.
- Grouse Mountain: Another popular ski spot that is actually a great four-season playground. While you can go snowboarding and skiing here, this is more popular during the summer. This is when you can challenge the Grouse Grind Trail, an incredibly steep trail that spans 1.6 miles (2.5 km).
- Mount Seymour: Like the others, Mount Seymour is a great place for tubing, snowboarding, and other winter fun. The lower mountain trails are perfect for biking and hiking, while the upper trails are only for hiking. It’s also home to several stunning lakes, such as Elsay Lake.
If you want to further venture off into the wilderness, head to the famous Whistler Mountain. It’s only around an hour’s drive away from Vancouver. And it attracts thousands of tourists from all around the world year-round.
But if you’d rather stay within the city, you’re not missing out on the action.
Check out the mountains from the city at Queen Elizabeth Park, as this is the highest point in Vancouver. To feel like you’re in the true wilderness within this bustling urban area, head to Stanley Park. This sprawling park is home to plenty of trails within lush rainforests, Aboriginal village sites, the famous Seawall, and more!
Paradisiacal Beaches at Your Fingertips
Located on a peninsula, Vancouver offers access to tons of pristine beaches. Home to a diverse mix of beaches, Vancouver ensures that there’s a sandy shore that caters to every visitor’s preference.
In Vancouver, you’ll find a beach that is widely regarded as one of the best urban beaches in Canada. With this reputation, Kitsilano Beach is a must-visit on your trip.
Kitsilano Beach has everything you need for a fun beach day. Lined with charming cafes and offering a great view of the North Shore Mountains, this beach is perfect for unwinding. But it’s also a popular spot for beach volleyball, frisbee, or even football.
What’s unique about this beach is that a seawall connects it to Stanley Park! So if you’re tired of dipping your toes in the sand, you can always retreat to a lush oasis.
Kitsilano Beach’s waters are cold, but it warms up in shallower areas. If this doesn’t entice you to plunge into the water, then the beach has a massive heated saltwater pool that sits on the edge of the ocean! Plus, it has a waterpark to keep the kids entertained too.
Adding to the list of Vancouver’s star beaches is Wreck Beach, the largest nude beach in the country. This 4-mile (6 km) beach is also famous for its breathtaking views of the city and its majestic mountains. Before reaching the beach, you’ll hike through a lush forest and then make your way down on a wooden staircase.
If you’re visiting Vancouver from June to September, don’t forget to check out English Bay. This is when English Bay hosts the city’s Shakespeare Festival, Bard on the Beach.
Every July, English Bay is the host of the Celebration of Light, a fireworks festival that paints the sky with all colors of the rainbow. This is the longest and largest offshore fireworks display in the world!
A Food Scene That Tickles Anyone’s Tastebuds
Because Vancouver is such an ethnically diverse foodie city, it offers a sublime gastronomic adventure. And wherever you are in the city, you’ll get a glimpse of this.
You’ll find locals lining up at the many food trucks in the city, filling the air with enticing aromas. You’ll find streets lined with restaurants of various culinary influences, giving you a taste of the world in one area. And of course, you’ll hear visitors and locals alike raving about their favorite places and chefs.
Vancouver is home to several foodie hubs that make the city’s culinary landscape more exciting.
The historic neighborhood of Gastown is the place to be for fusion food and modern cuisine. Chinatown is where you can help yourself to traditional dishes or enjoy a more modern remix of them. Similarly, Richmond’s Chinese food scene is full of rave-worthy hidden restaurants for you to discover.
Granville Island is famous for its food markets and its eclectic and extensive mix of food offers. The West End is a paradise for ramen enthusiasts and is a prime spot for some late-night Korean dishes. While Kitsilano almost always has new restaurants popping up everywhere.
While you’re spoiled for choices in the city, don’t forget to check out the city’s sensational seafood scene. Being on the Pacific Coast, Vancouver offers a wide array of fresh seafood on your plate. From sea urchins to salmon, you name it, and Vancouver probably has it.
You don’t even have to enter a restaurant to get a taste of Vancouver’s food scene. Food trucks are a big part of the city’s culinary landscape, and you’re never too far from a food truck here. The food truck scene here offers everything you could think of, such as fish tacos, pork buns, and more!
A foodie tour of Vancouver isn’t complete without tasting the city’s sensational craft beers. The city is home to over 50 breweries. And they feature local ingredients, such as raspberries and honey, in their creative and varied brews.
The Fun Continues After Dark
After a long day of exploring this beautiful city, you can still have some fun before hitting the hay. Vancouver has plenty of choices to keep you entertained throughout the night, making you lose track of time. And the city offers a varied mix of nighttime allures, so there’s something that’ll entice everyone to stay up!
If drinking is your idea of a fun night out, Vancouver spoils you with options.
Hit the cobblestoned streets of Gastown, where you’ll find many refined cocktail bars, wine bars, and beer halls to choose from. If you want a more laid-back night scene, Kitsilano’s pubs are the perfect beachside spots. While Yaletown has a more bustling night scene as it’s the go-to spot for a younger crowd of night owls.
For a wilder, more lively nightlife, make your way to Granville Street. This is Vancouver’s answer to the Vegas Strip, a street lit with neon lights, busy clubs, and packed with a sea of night owls.
If you’re not a fan of drinking or dancing until the wee hours of the night, don’t worry. Vancouver’s nightlife isn’t limited to drunken merrymaking!
For a romantic evening, go on a Vancouver Harbour Cruise and see the city’s twinkling lights from a different perspective. You’ll get views of the skyline, waterfront, and mountains all in one scenic frame.
For a different kind of thrill, go on a Vancouver ghost tour! You’ll wander through Gastown and discover the stories that its alleyways and backside buildings hold.
If you’d rather catch a show, Vancouver is home to tons of entertainment venues!
Enjoy a Broadway show, or an opera, or watch dancers perform at the Pacific Theatre. Or you can watch a movie in the historic Rio Theatre, which has been welcoming patrons since the 1930s. You can even enjoy a glass of beer, wine, or cocktail as you watch a movie!
How about trying your luck at a casino? While they’re not at the caliber of the Las Vegas casinos, they still offer endless entertainment at night. Go for the slot machine, have fun at table games, or enjoy the live music!
Is Calgary Better Than Vancouver?
Both Calgary and Vancouver have their enticing draws, so the better destination of the two will depend on what you want out of your trip.
One of the biggest factors that can make Calgary better is that it’s near famous national parks. Calgary is right at the foot of the Rocky Mountains National Park. And you can easily visit this snow-capped mountain range and go on a hike and go wildlife watching.
More than that, Calgary is also an hour or two away from the world-famous Banff National Park. The park’s most famous sight is the stunning aquamarine waters of Lake Louise. And with the alpine forests and mountain range surrounding the lake, it offers views like no other.
Vancouver may be close to national parks, but none are as celebrated as those close to Calgary. But Vancouver wins for its accessibility to a diverse mix of outdoor activities!
In the summer, you can go kayaking in English Bay, take a dip at Kitsilano Beach, or hike at the North Shore Mountains. During the winter, these mountains become a winter wonderland for skiing, snowboarding, and more! And if you don’t want to go out of the city, the sprawling Stanley Park is enough to make you feel like you’re in the wilderness.
Vancouver also has plenty of beach options for beach lovers. While public beaches are hard to find in Calgary, as it’s landlocked.
When it comes to culture, Vancouver is more ethnically diverse. It’s home to multicultural neighborhoods where you can immerse yourself in cultures from around the world. But Calgary has an interesting culture too, thanks to its Wild West heritage.
In almost every other aspect though, Vancouver is a better destination.
For one, Vancouver is still a busy city with tons to see and do at night. Its infrastructure and population are more suited to nightlife, and it offers an incredible party scene. Meanwhile, Calgary becomes quiet at night, and it’s harder to find late-night fun here.
Is Calgary Cheaper Than Vancouver?
If you’re traveling on a budget, your money will stretch further in Calgary than in Vancouver. Calgary is one of the most affordable cities in Canada. Meanwhile, Vancouver is one of the most expensive cities in the country.
The average hotel price for a double-occupancy room in Calgary is 118 USD for a night. For the same accommodation, you can expect to pay 143 USD in Vancouver. This still doesn’t include all the other things you need on your trip, and the prices can stack up.
To give you an idea of the expenses you need in both cities, here’s a quick breakdown of the costs.
When going around Calgary, you can expect to pay 10 USD a day. But in Vancouver, this will be around 9.76 USD a day.
Both cities are walkable, but Vancouver is especially renowned for this. Calgary is more spread apart, so you’ll need public transit to get around the city. But in Vancouver, you can easily travel on foot or on a bike to save money.
Costs for daily meals don’t differ much between the two cities. You can expect to pay 25 USD for daily meals in Calgary and 26 USD in Vancouver.
Calgary vs. Vancouver Weather
Much like the rest of Canada, Calgary and Vancouver have cold winters and mild summers. Vancouver has a milder climate but it’s quite rainy. Calgary experiences more extremes between seasons but it’s still manageable.
Vancouver’s annual temperature falls between 35 F to 73 F (1.7 to 22.7 C). Its temperature rarely falls a few degrees below freezing.
But Vancouver is among the wettest and foggiest cities in Canada as it’s in a temperate rainforest. Its winters are long, cold, wet, and cloudy.
Summertime is when Vancouver becomes a tourist magnet. The summers here are comfortable and it doesn’t become too hot.
Calgary’s annual temperature ranges from 12 to 75 F (-11.1 to 23.8 C). But even during the wintertime, Calgary gets a fair amount of sunshine. And this helps in keeping you warm during its long and snowy winters.
Calgary is also drier than Vancouver. Calgary’s wet season lasts 4.6 months, from May to September. While Vancouver’s wet season is 6.4 months long, from October to April.
With this, Vancouver is a better summer destination as it doesn’t get too hot. While Calgary is a better visit during winter as it still gets sunshine.
Why Is Vancouver Warmer Than Calgary?
Vancouver is not always warmer than Calgary. Vancouver is warmer than Calgary during winter and cooler than Calgary during summer. With this, it’s better to say that Vancouver has a milder climate than Calgary.
Vancouver enjoys this temperate climate because of its landscape; it sits near a large body of water, and it’s close to the mountains.
The water that surrounds Vancouver acts as a strong insulator. The ocean’s temperature doesn’t fluctuate as much no matter the season. The winds that blow through Vancouver come from the west, from the ocean side, warming up the city or cooling it down when needed.
Other than that, Vancouver doesn’t receive the freezing cold from the Artic air like the rest of Canada. The Rocky Mountains block these winds from reaching Vancouver.
Meanwhile, Calgary is a landlocked city. It doesn’t have a large body of water to keep it warm during the cool season.
Other than that, Calgary, being in a prairie, doesn’t have a natural barrier to the wind. With this, the freezing Arctic air reaches the city, lowering its temperature drastically.
Vancouver Zoo vs. Calgary Zoo
The Calgary Zoo and the Greater Vancouver Zoo are among the most visited zoos in the country. But Calgary Zoo is widely regarded as one of the best in the country.
Calgary Zoo is around 74 acres big (30 ha) and houses more than 1000 animals, excluding fish and insects, with 272 different animal species. Its residents live across six divisions, simulating their natural habitat. With this, it’ll feel like you’re touring the world as you stroll around!
There’s the Canadian Wilds, which features local animals such as bears and moose. You can watch various kinds of penguins, like King and Gentoo, at the Penguin Plunge. You can marvel at red pandas, snow leopards, and Amur tigers at Exploration Asia.
A highlight of Calgary Zoo is Safari Brunch Sunday. This allows you to eat brunch at Destination Africa!
Meanwhile, Vancouver zoo is larger at 120 acres (49 ha) big, but its home to fewer animals. It houses 200 animals of 140 different species. And they’re either donated, rescued, or orphaned.
You’ll find red pandas, jaguars, camels, and more here.
What’s fun about Vancouver Zoo is that you can bring your skateboard, bike, rollerblade, or wagon to wander around the zoo!
Is Calgary Close to Vancouver?
Considering the distance between them, Calgary is quite close to Vancouver. If you’re traveling between the two cities by plane, it’ll only take around an hour or two of travel time.
But if you’re traveling by land, the route between these two cities is quite long. You’ll have to go through mountains and drive through curved roads, and this lengthens the distance between them.
Vancouver to Calgary Distance
The straight line distance between Vancouver and Calgary is around 420 miles (676 km). But this distance is only applicable when traveling from Vancouver to Calgary by plane.
If you’re traveling by land, you can expect to cover a long distance due to road curvature. You’ll be driving through the mountains no matter which route you choose.
On the Trans-Canada Highway, you’ll be covering a distance of 603 miles (971 km). This route has a travel time of around 10 hours and 33 minutes.
But if you go through the longer Crowsnest Highway, you’ll have a driving distance of 762 miles (1226 km). This route’s travel time is around 14 hours.
Is Vancouver Bigger Than Calgary?
When it comes to land area, Vancouver is a smaller city than Calgary. Vancouver has a land area of 44 square miles (115 square km). Meanwhile, Calgary has a land area of 319 miles (825 square km).
But when it comes to population, Vancouver is a larger city. Vancouver is home to 2.4 million people in the metro area. While Calgary’s metro area only has 1.4 million people living in it.
How to Get From Vancouver to Calgary
You can travel from Vancouver to Calgary in four ways. You can take a bus, a plane, a train, or drive.
Taking the bus is the most affordable option of the four. It only costs around 65 to 140 USD. The downside is that it’s one of the slowest options, taking around 14 hours and 30 minutes of travel time.
Buses travel from Vancouver to Calgary every day. And they’re direct buses so you don’t have to make a switch along the way.
Riding a plane is also an affordable option. Plane tickets cost around 30 to 290 USD. And this is the fastest option as it has a travel time of around 1 to 2 hours.
Driving to Calgary gives you the freedom to marvel at the scenic stops along the way. It takes around 11 hours, depending on your route. Fuel costs for this trip are around 138 to 200 USD. But you still have to pay car rental fees and tolls.
If you want to take the train, you need to travel from Vancouver to Edmonton. From there, you can ride a bus to Calgary. Or you can take the ultra-expensive Rocky Mountaineer for a direct train.
Distance Between Calgary and Vancouver by Plane
The plane distance between Calgary and Vancouver is around 420 miles (676 km).
Calgary to Vancouver by Train
Unfortunately, Calgary doesn’t have any train service that will take you out of town. Thus, there are no direct trains from Calgary to Vancouver. But if you’re determined to travel between the two cities on a train, it’s still possible.
From Calgary, you need to travel to a train station that takes you to Vancouver. You have three options for this. You can either go to Edmonton, the Banff Train Station, or Jasper Train Station.
If you choose to go to Edmonton, a bus ticket to the city from Calgary starts at 23 USD. This will take around 3 hours and 45 minutes of travel time.
While Banff is only 2 hours away from Calgary. Bus tickets from Calgary to Banff cost around 10 USD.
A bus from Calgary to Jasper costs around 114 USD. It’ll take around 7 hours to reach your destination.
Once you’ve reached any of these, you can now take a direct train to Vancouver.
A train ride from Edmonton to Vancouver starts at 159 USD. A train from Jasper starts at 131 USD. While a train from Banff starts at 139 USD.
On this journey, the train travel time is around 23 to 33 hours.
Vancouver to Calgary Train Price
Via Rail, Canada’s passenger rail service, doesn’t travel between Vancouver and Calgary. With this, traveling between the two cities is quite tricky but possible.
You have two options if you’re determined to travel from Vancouver to Calgary via train.
One option is to travel from Vancouver to Edmonton and then to Calgary. You can also ride a direct train from Vancouver to Calgary on a pricey luxury train, the Rocky Mountaineer.
The first option may be challenging, but it’s the most affordable one.
First, ride a train from Vancouver to Edmonton. You’ll be covering a distance of 508 miles (818 km) which takes around 27 hours to complete. Train tickets on this route start at 161 USD, and one train departs from Vancouver for Edmonton daily.
Once you’re in Edmonton, you can ride a Red Arrow bus to Calgary, and bus tickets on this route cost around 54 USD. Several buses travel this route daily and the travel time is around 3 hours and 30 minutes.
You can also travel with Rocky Mountaineer, but this takes 8 days as you will go through Kamloops, Jasper, and Lake Louise before reaching Calgary. This option costs 2761 to 5518 USD per person.
Distance From Vancouver to Calgary by Train
The train distance from Vancouver to Calgary depends on your chosen travel option.
If you travel with the only direct train option, the luxurious Rocky Mountaineer, you’ll cover a distance of 659 miles (1060 km).
The other option is to ride a train from Vancouver to Edmonton first. Then take a bus from Edmonton to Calgary. There are no other direct train options between Vancouver to Calgary, and this is the most affordable option.
With this indirect option, you’ll have a total travel distance of 682 miles (1098 km). The train ride from Vancouver to Edmonton covers a distance of 508 miles (818 km). And it takes another 174 miles (280 km) to travel from Edmonton to Calgary on a bus.
How Long Is the Train Ride From Calgary to Vancouver?
There’s no easy answer to this as riding a train from Calgary to Vancouver is quite tricky. And this is because Calgary doesn’t have any train service that travels out of town. Thus, your train travel time will depend on your chosen travel option.
You have two options for this journey.
One is to travel with Rocky Mountaineers, a luxury train that directly travels between Vancouver and Calgary. This is more of a tourist train though. This trip takes 8 days long because you’ll also stop at Kamloops, Jasper, and Lake Louise, before heading to Calgary.
But the time you’ll spend on the running train (imagining no stops) on this trip takes around 49 hours.
The other more affordable yet challenging option is to take a train from Vancouver to Edmonton first. This journey has a travel time of around 26 hours and 50 minutes.
But once you reach Edmonton, you’ll have to travel by bus to Calgary. And this will take another 3 hours and 45 minutes of travel time.
All in all, the second option has a travel time of around 31 hours.
Calgary to Vancouver by Bus
Direct buses travel between Calgary and Vancouver daily. You can catch a bus at Whitehorn LRT, Crossiron Mills, or Westbrook Mall in Calgary. And you’ll arrive at Canada Place, Holiday Inn Howe, or Waterfront Station in Vancouver.
This journey covers a distance of 419 miles (674 km). It takes around 14 hours to complete this trip. But the fastest bus services can cut this down to only 12 hours.
Bus ticket prices on this route range from 65 to 140 USD. But on average, it costs around 132 USD.
Usually, only 2 buses travel on this route daily. The earliest bus that departs from Calgary for Vancouver leaves at 7 AM. While the last bus leaves at 10 PM.
Vancouver to Calgary Bus Time
A bus ride from Vancouver to Calgary usually lasts around 14 hours and 10 minutes. But faster buses can cut down the travel time to 13 hours and 40 minutes.
The first bus on this trip leaves at around 8:15 AM. While the last bus that departs from Vancouver to Calgary leaves at 3:00 PM.
Is It Safe to Drive From Vancouver to Calgary?
Driving from Vancouver to Calgary is safe, as long as you drive slowly, follow defensive driving, and use winter tires. The road on this route is among the busiest and best maintained in the country. There’s even round-the-clock snow removal done on the Northernmost route (Highway 1 and Highway 5).
Despite this, you need to be careful as roads bend and twist. Mountain passes can be quite steep too. Also, the weather conditions can change fast with altitude.
Make sure to pack your essentials, such as windshield antifreeze. Don’t forget to pack warm clothes, snacks, and blankets, too, in case you get delayed due to bad conditions.
If you can, it’s safest to drive during the day, especially after a snowfall when it’s freezing cold and the road gets slippery.
One of the most challenging parts of this journey is going through Coquihalla, as it’s hard to dive into a snowstorm. Roger’s Pass is another, as there’s a risk of an avalanche here. This is why there are snowsheds in this section.
You need to be careful at Ten Mile Hill too, which is between Golden and Lake Louise. This is a steep and twisty part of the route.
Distance From Vancouver to Calgary by Car
The driving distance from Vancouver to Calgary depends on your chosen route. If you travel on the Trans-Canada Highway, you’ll cover a distance of 1563 miles (971 km). But if you go on the Crowsnest Highway, you’ll drive a distance of 1973 miles (1226 km).
Calgary to Vancouver Drive – Hours
The driving time from Calgary to Vancouver will depend on the route you take. If you travel via Trans-Canada Highway, the driving time will be around 10 hours and 48 minutes. But if you go through Crowsnest Highway, you’ll be driving for around 14 hours and 11 minutes.
Driving Vancouver to Calgary in One Day
Since the driving time from Vancouver to Calgary is around 11 to 14 hours, you can drive within a day. But this is not recommended for safety reasons.
When driving between the two cities, you’ll go through twisting and bending roads. Other than that, weather conditions can change quickly on this route. It’ll be difficult to drive then, and you may run into some road closures that’ll last for a few hours.
The drive from Vancouver to Calgary isn’t dangerous. But it’s a challenging one that you need to take with caution.
With this, you need to take frequent breaks on this trip, and this will add up to your driving time. Driving slowly on the route helps ensure that you won’t run into issues.
Safest Route From Calgary to Vancouver
The safest route to take on a drive from Calgary to Vancouver is driving through Coquihalla Highway. You’ll be driving on a 4-lane divided highway for the most part of this route.
Just be careful once you’re in Coquihalla. A snowstorm in this section can be quite difficult to drive in.
You have three places to stop for fuel or for whatever else you need on your trip along the way. One is at Kamloops, a small city that offers tons of accommodations for an overnight stop. Then there’s Merritt in British Columbia, and then Hope, an hour away from Merritt.
Scenic Route From Vancouver to Calgary
While other routes also boast breathtaking views, the Trans-Canada Highway route offers the best scenery on this trip. This route passes through famous and must-see attractions along the way. Other than that, this route is also a quick and safe option on your journey!
Here are some of the top stops on this route.
Check out Revelstoke, a town located in the heart of Columbia and the Monashee Mountains. Surrounding this town are five national parks, so there are tons of natural gems here to discover!
You can also stop by Yoho National Park along the way, a year-round scenic destination. Go on a hike, discover cascading waterfalls, or camp here! Don’t forget to check out Emerald Lake, one of the park’s highlights.
Keep driving and you’ll pass by the world-famous Banff National Park. This park is home to several famous and heavily photographed sites for you to see in person—
One is Johnston Canyon, which is beautiful during winter when its waterfalls freeze. Then there’s the popular Lake Louise, a lake known for its striking turquoise waters and the alpine forests that surround it. Not too far is Moraine Lake, a glacier-fed lake with majestic mountains in the backdrop.
Fastest Route From Calgary to Vancouver
The fastest route from Calgary to Vancouver is driving through the Banff Route. This route has a distance of 1155 miles (1858 km) and takes around 14 hours to complete.
Head out of Calgary to the west and take the Bow Trail SW before hopping in the Sacree Train SW. You’ll soon drive on the Trans-Canada Highway, which you’ll be traveling on for over half of your trip.
You’ll soon reach Banff, and you can head out of town along Mt. Norquat Road. Keep driving west on the highway until you reach Kootenay National Park.
After this, hop back on AB-93 until you join the highway again. Then continue driving west to reach Vancouver
Along the way, you’ll pass through Lake Louise and several national parks. This includes Yoho, Glacier, and Mt. Revelstoke.
The highway will then take you to Sicamous. Head out of town on the Sicamous-Solqua Road and head to Sicamous Lookout before you continue on the highway.
Drive west and pass by Kamloops before you’ll hop off Trans-Canada Highway at Cache Creek. Tun right to BC-96 to St. George then turn left to BC-99 S.
Just follow Highway 99 along Squamish River and you’ll be in Vancouver!
Easiest Drive From Vancouver to Calgary
The scenic Trans-Canada Highway route is also the easiest route to take on a drive from Vancouver to Calgary. This route covers 605 miles (973 km) and takes around 10 hours and 50 minutes to complete.
Other than that, you’ll be driving on a four-lane road along this route. And there are only occasional twists and turns here, making it a year-round straightforward drive.
Just take Highway 1 along Fraser River when you get out of Vancouver. You can go on a detour at Golden Ears Provincial park before reaching Abbotsford.
Keep driving north on Highway 5, passing by the Coquihalla Summit Recreational Area. From there, you’ll go through Monck and Lac Le Jeune Provincial Parks.
Keep driving and you’ll reach Kamloops, where you can go on Highway 1 again and drive through the South Thompson River. Now drive along Shuswap Lake, through the Enchanted Forest, before driving through the Rockies.
You won’t leave the highway as you go through the Rockies. You’ll pass by several famous stops here. This includes the national parks of Revelstoke, Glacier, Yoho, Banff, and Kootenay.
Continue driving and you’ll reach Bow Valley Provincial Park. You’ll then reach Calaway Amusement Park before you reach Calgary.
Calgary to Vancouver via Highway 3
Highway 3 is the longest route option on a drive from Calgary to Vancouver. It covers a distance of 1500 miles (2414 km) and takes around 20 hours and 20 minutes to complete.
This route doesn’t have famous attractions along the way. But it offers a ton of mountain views and charming towns to stop by.
Once you reach the British Columbia Border from Alberta, you’ll run into Crowsnest Pass. Check the Turtle Mountain, or visit the Corwsnest Museum to learn about the area’s rich history.
You’ll also pass by Fernie on your drive. This city may be small, but it packs a ton of mountain adventure opportunities. Go mountain biking at Fernie Alpine Resort, or enjoy the countless hiking trails around the area.
Then you can visit the sunny city of Cranbrook. This is a golfer’s paradise, as the city is home to over six golf courses to choose from.
You’ll enter another summer paradise called Osoyoos, where you can take a dip in the warmest freshwater lakes in Canada. If you love wine, this town is home to tons of wineries!
Before you finally reach Vancouver, don’t forget to stop for some outdoor fun at Manning Park!
Calgary to Vancouver Road Trip
You have two route options when going on a road trip from Calgary to Vancouver. One is driving through the Banff Route, while the other is the Border Route. Both offer stunning scenery along the way, and it’ll depend on what you want to see on your trip.
The Banff Route is the most popular one, as it takes you through some of Canada’s most famous natural wonders. On this route, you’ll pass by the national parks of Banff, Glacier, Mout Revelstoke, Kootenay, and Yoho. You also get the chance to stop by Banff, Kamloops, Garibaldi Provincial Park, and Whistler.
Other than that, the Banff Route is also the shortest and fastest route option. This route has a distance of 1155 miles (1858 km) with an estimated driving time of 14 hours and 30 minutes.
The other route, the Border Route, doesn’t have as many famous landmarks along the way. This route follows highway 3, driving through Corwsnest, Fernie, Cranbrook, Osoyoos, and Manning Park. And along the way, you’ll get beautiful mountain views and lakeside drives.
This is the longer route, with a distance of 1155 miles (1858 km) And it takes around 20 hours of driving time to complete.
Calgary to Vancouver Road Trip Distance
The distance you’ll cover on your road trip from Calgary to Vancouver depends on your chosen route. If you take the Banff Route (Trans-Canada Highway), you’ll cover a distance of 1155 miles (1858 km). But on the Border Route (Highway 3), you’ll drive a distance of 1155 miles (1858 km).
Calgary to Vancouver Road Trip Time
Like the driving distance, your travel time from Calgary to Vancouver depends on the route you choose. On the Banff Route (Trans-Canada Highway), the estimated travel time is 14 hours and 30 minutes. But on the longer Border Route (Highway 3), you can expect a travel time of 20 hours and 20 minutes.
5-Day Road Trip From Calgary to Vancouver
If you were to ask a local, they’d suggest spending as much time on the Rockies as you can. Thankfully, three national parks on the route are part of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks.
Once you head out of Calgary, make your way to Banff National Park, the first of the three. It’s worth spending at least two nights here for you to explore Banff to the fullest. Other than the national park, the town of Banff is a worthy stop!
On the third day, make your way to Kootenay National Park. From Book Lake to Marble Canyon to Radium Hot Springs, this park offers exceptional views! It also offers countless incredible hikes like Stanley Glacier and Paint Pots.
On your fourth day, drive to Yoho National Park nearby. A must-see sight here is the breathtaking turquoise waters of Emerald Lake. Check out Takkakaw Falls too, the second-tallest waterfall in the country.
Yoho National Park features cool rock walls and high-altitude vistas that you should take advantage of!
On the fifth day, get up early and head to Vancouver.
7-Day Road Trip From Calgary to Vancouver
A 7-day road gives allows you to enjoy scenic stops between Calgary and Vancouver! The best route on this trip is the Trans-Canada Highway, as it’s filled with famous landmarks.
On your first day, make your way to Banff National Park. Bring your camera with you and soak in the beautiful rugged mountains and vibrant turquoise lakes. For its natural beauty alone, it’s worth spending two nights in Banff so you can explore the town on the second day!
For day three, drive to Golden to visit the Yoho National Park. Visit Burges Shale Fossil Beds, Emerald Lake, and its other natural wonders.
On day four, drive to Revelstoke, where you can visit Mount Revelstoke National Park. Visit the fairy-tale-like Enchanted forest, and take in the views of Lake Revelstoke.
For the fifth day, make your way to Kamloops and meet some animals at BC Wildlife Park! This is the home of British Columbia’s native fauna, such as elks and mountain lions.
Travel to Hope on your sixth day, as it’s home to some cool sites. This includes the Othello Tunnels and the regional parks of Silver Lake and Thacker.
From Hope, you can now make your way to Vancouver!
Vancouver to Calgary Road Trip in 10 Days
On your first day, go on a trip to Vancouver Island. You can ride a vehicle ferry to the island. Here, you can go on a cultural trip and learn more about Canada’s indigenous culture.
The next day, take another ferry to Victoria. Some highlights here include the stunning Butchart Gardens, the Royal Museum, and the Empress hotel.
On the third day, make your way to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park for some outdoor fun. Then head to Whistler, a charming village where you can ride a peak-to-peak gondola.
On the fourth day, make your way to Chase, where you can explore the natural wonders of Shuswap.
Drive to Lake Louise on the fifth day. Head to Maligne Lake after, a lake fed by Jasper National Park’s Glaciers.
For days six and seven, make your way to Jasper National Park. This park allows you to explore the best of the Rockies, so it’s worth spending time here.
On Day eight, drive to Columbia Icefield Excursion and then drive back to Banff in the afternoon. Continue in Banff on day nine so you can explore Sulphur Mountain.
Finally, on day ten, you can now continue your drive to the city of Calgary!
Vancouver to Calgary Road Trip in 14 Days
A 14-day road trip from Vancouver to Calgary offers a sea-to-summit experience. With two weeks to explore the best of Canada’s majestic landscape, there’s so much to see and do! This is quite a comprehensive journey, but here’s a quick rundown below.
For your first three days, spend some time between Vancouver and Whistler on the Sea-to-Sky Highway. On days three to four, enjoy Jasper and the provincial parks of Joffre Lakes, Wells Gray, and Mount Robson.
From days four to six, just hang out at Jasper National Park. You won’t run out of things to see and do in this scenic playground!
On days six and seven, explore the Icefields Parkway and spend the night here. The next day until day nine, go on an adventure at Lake Louise and spend two nights here.
From day nine to ten, head to the Bow Valley Parkway. From day ten onwards, you can explore Banff and its beautiful surroundings. Then you can spend time in Canmore and Kananaskis Country too!
On your last day, you hop on Trans-Canada Highway from Canmore, which is a little over an hour away from Calgary.